Early trout season
You've been dreaming about it since last year and it's finally here. The early catch-and-release trout season opens at 5 a.m. on January 2 and runs until midnight April 30.
- Anglers are not required to use barbless hooks. Artificial lures and flies are still required.
- Wisconsin's official maps of classified trout streams have been updated and contain 41 more streams that have been classified as trout waters since 2014. Most of those 292 miles are found in west central and southern Wisconsin counties and will be open for the early season.
- New online maps and interactive maps will make all of the trout waters easier to find and provide other information to increase anglers’ success.
EARLY TROUT SEASON
The early inland trout season on selected waters [PDF] runs from 5 a.m. on the first Saturday in January (January 2, 2021) through the Friday preceding the first Saturday in May (April 30, 2021}.
The Trout Regulations & Opportunities User Tool (TROUT) was designed to help trout anglers find places to fish. TROUT includes trout fishing regulation, classified trout water, public land and DNR fishing easements.
Bitten early by the big trout bug
I don't like fishing alone. After all, if I have a fishing partner I have someone to talk to and a photo subject, too. But last spring, I found myself fishing a woody stretch of stream alone. I wanted — no needed — to be alone. To have some "me" time. Some bad news about a friend had me thinking about life and why I spend so much of mine fishing...read on
Improving your early trout season experience
- Mike Miller, avid trout angler and DNR stream ecologist, helps anglers transition from tip-ups to tips to help you find and catch trout during the early catch and release season [VIDEO Length 2:29]
- To Spin or Not to Spin? To many Wisconsin Anglers, a spinning rod is the only way to go. Try these spin fishing tips from DNR fisheries biologists and technicians [PDF 282KB]
"Tried and true" trout waters
If you’re in the market for a new adventure, try some of these waters that DNR fish biologists, supervisors, technicians and hatchery personnel identify as their favorites for the early catch and release trout season.
Check out these other trout resources to make the most of your time on the water.
- Information on trout and salmon, including identification of the various species.
- Guide to Wisconsin Trout Fishing Regulations
- Wisconsin Trout Stream Maps
Arranged by county, this listing will help you find a prime stream to fish opening day.
- Public access to trout streams on public lands
This interactive guide shows where you'll find state public lands providing easy access to trout waters.
- Wisconsin trout stream classification
Information about, and a listing of, the 10,000 miles of classified trout waters. Learn which streams have naturally reproducing trout populations, which are stocked to jump-start naturally reproducing populations, and which are maintained entirely by stocking.